- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 21, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

When a military officer participates in a war against his own country, that is high treason, and that is the charge that ought to be brought against Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. But it’s not going to happen.

Maj. Hasan should have been weeded out of the military long ago. There was abundant evidence that his allegiance was not to the United States - the country that had given his immigrant family safe haven and provided him the opportunity to become, at taxpayer expense, a physician, an officer and a gentleman. It was apparent that he viewed himself not as an American soldier but as a “Soldier of Allah” - the phrase he had printed on his business cards - and that sooner or later he would wage war against the “unbelievers.”

Why did none of those who saw something say something? In a culture where the value of diversity trumps the requirements of security, to do so would have been career suicide. There was no way that was going to happen.

Let’s be clear: The lesson of Fort Hood is not that Muslims in the U.S. military constitute a fifth column. But neither can we continue to assume blithely that someone like Maj. Hasan - American-born, well educated, apparently sophisticated - could never succumb to the temptations of what the politically correct call “violent extremism.”

Paradoxically, the Fort Hood massacre highlights the fact that Muslims soldiers who are doing their duty as proud, patriotic Americans are extraordinarily independent-minded and brave. While there is no evidence that Maj. Hasan was ever harassed for being a Muslim - as some of his relatives have charged - there is a long record of Muslims who criticize Islamists being denounced as apostates, a sin that can bring a fatwa and the death penalty. “Patriotism is paganism,” the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini famously said. Khomeini was a Shia Islamist, but on this theological point Sunni Islamists emphatically agree.

Western commentators sometimes assert that Muslims who preach intolerance and belligerence are “heretics” who have “hijacked” a great and peaceful religion. But no Muslim authority would say that - not even those who denounce terrorism. How, after all, can a fundamentalist be a heretic? How can someone who insists on a literal reading of the Koran be accused of misrepresenting what it says?

Some Western commentators also assert that there is a “civil war” taking place within “the Muslim world.” But no battles or even protests were ever staged outside the Dar al-Hijra mosque in Northern Virginia where Anwar al-Aulaqi preached a hateful and violent theology. Maj. Hasan was among those who worshipped with - and was inspired by - al-Aulaqi, an American-born cleric who five years ago decamped to Yemen. In recent days, Al-Aulaqi has described Maj. Hasan as a “hero,” adding: “The only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the U.S. army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal.”

Al-Aulaqi’s kind of Islam aims to humble, defeat and conquer despised “infidels.” Islamists of his ilk are determined, ruthless and well-financed thanks to the West’s addiction to oil, most of which is found in lands ruled by those who read Islam more or less as al-Aulaqi does.

They also have this advantage - the reluctance of so many Americans to comprehend that a war is being waged against them, even after an American military base in Texas has been turned into a killing field by what appears to have been a turncoat furious over Islamist grievances, driven by Islamist dreams.

In his remarks at the memorial in Fort Hood last week, President Obama said: “No faith justifies these murderous and craven acts.” But the faith embraced by al-Aulaqi, Maj. Hasan and millions like them has been invoked to justify the slaughter of Christians, Jews and Muslim dissidents for decades. It would be enormously helpful if our political leaders would accept this reality and consider its policy implications. But that’s not going to happen, at least not any time soon.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

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